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The end of the Quake Observatory? NSF might stop funding for SAFOD

The San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) was one of the most ambitious (and expensive) experiments in the history of active fault research. A borehole was drilled through the San Andreas Fault, 3.2 km deep and 1.8 km in horizontal direction. The borehole was equipped with a number of instruments in order to get data from right where the earthquakes occur, but most of the instruments failed already in 2008 due to the extreme conditions. While analyses of the drill core resulted in some great scientific achievements and enhanced our understanding of fault zones, almost no one seems to have much interest in the in-situ instruments. Or let’s say, no one can pay the necessary amount for re-equipping the hole, millions of dollars… Plus, there seem to be a number of problems in the project management. As a consequence, the NSF pulls its support for the observatory. This could be the end for SAFOD, and it could be a warning for other fault observatories.

If you would like to see the SAFOD cores from the San Andreas Fault, make sure to check this amazing online core viewer: http://coreviewer.earthscope.org/samples/safod_core_samples/

Thanks to Elisa Kagan for pointing me to this rather sad news.

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Christoph Grützner

works at the Institute of Geological Sciences, Jena University. He likes Central Asia and the Mediterranean and looks for ancient earthquakes.

See all posts Christoph Grützner

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